They’re prolific readers of B-rated thriller novels. They sing about not scoring with chicks. And everyone thinks they’re British. But New York-based We Are Scientists are out with a second album, Brain Thrust Mastery, and they want to be taken seriously (sort of). Below, singer/guitarist Keith Murray talks about chick lit, the New York music scene and the band’s new album.
Your website is funny. Who wrote it?
Ninety percent of the website is written by Chris (Cain, bassist). Musically, wackiness is not my thing. The web is the home for wackiness. Music needs to be filled with total gravity. There’s room for wit, I’d say, in music. But never jokes.
What books do you guys read? Saw you have a single titled "Chick Lit." Is that your preferred genre?
We do have a taste for shitty literature. The band’s favorite author is Lee Childs, who writes essentially chick lit for dudes. So I guess we’re into whatever dude lit would be. But I’m a slave to literacy. I’m sort of pathetically enamored with New York Times’ end-of-year lists. I try to read everything that’s on those.
Why did you choose “Chick Lit” as a title for one of your songs?
I liked it because it was simultaneously evocative and derogatory: There’s nothing complimentary about calling something chick lit.
You guys moved to Brooklyn from L.A. How do you feel about the New York music scene now?
I feel like right now it’s happening again on a kind of cooler, smaller scale. None of the bands are really devastatingly huge; everyone’s losing their mind about how big Vampire Weekend is, but even they aren’t that huge.
What are your musical influences?
I feel like naming bands that we think of as influences never accurately depicts how they filter in our actual music. Bands I think of as my influences are Pavement and Velvet Underground and My Bloody Valentine.
How is Brain Thrust Mastery different and the same as From Love and Squalor?
It’s definitely less immediate in that the songs are generally longer. Love and Squalor had a lot of good will in the form of up-tempo dance songs. We’ve forsaken that bit of good will in this album. This time we were sinking our teeth into different modes, I would say. The influences that I cited to you before do come out more on this record than our last.
Many of your lyrics seem to be about broken hearts. Is that a common theme in your life?
I will say I like making a big deal over stuff like that. I wouldn’t consider myself an emotional stoic, not because my romantic life involves the constant battery that a survey of lyrics would indicate. I like raking over the cinders to pike out smoldering bone and going over them again.
How’s your U.K. tour going?
People over here think we’re British. They’re like “Why are you putting on that really bad American accent?” It’s funny.
Which do you prefer, U.S. or U.K. audiences?
Our shows in the U.K. are so much bigger and crazy — they have a different tome because we’re on the radio all the time. The vibe is sort of different. In the U.S. there’s still sort of a sense that people think they’ve discovered us.